Welcome to the seventh installment of the 2015 Quick Fact blog series. These posts aim to give you a bite-size overview of performances you’ll find at the Festival this season. Each post in the series includes who, what, when, where, and why. We’ll even throw in some photos and videos to sweeten the deal!


American filmmaker Bill Morrison’s acclaimed 2002 film Decasia featuring a score by American composer Michael Gordon performed by Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra and conductor John Kennedy.


This event promises to be a wholly immersive and sensory experience and one of those “only at Spoleto Festival USA” moments, bringing together an internationally acclaimed film work and its contemporary music score with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra for one-night-only. Prior to the film screening, the orchestra and conductor John Kennedy will present the US premiere of Giacinto Scelsi’s recently-discovered work [Kamakala].

Bill Morrison uses the physical decomposition of 35mm nitrate film as the catalyst for his existential narratives, creating work that investigates the tension between archives and memory. He frequently collaborates with composers, as he did here with Michael Gordon, a founding member of the Bang On A Can collective. A 2002 New York Times Magazine story says of the partnership: “Gordon was in some ways Morrison’s acoustic twin, entranced by traces of decay and decomposition in music itself. He was fascinated by the slightly-out-of-tune and yet more so by the more-out-of-tune-yet, and likewise by rhythmic distortions and distress.”

Decasia — a word created by Morrison by blending “decay” and “Fantasia” — is compiled from found footage, much of it sourced from the University of South Carolina’s Fox Movietone News Collection housed in Columbia.


College of Charleston Sottile Theatre, 44 George Street


Monday, June 1 at 8pm


Photo courtesy of Bill Morrison

Photo courtesy of Bill Morrison


Decasia is the only 21st-century film to be declared part of the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

Jennifer Scott, Director of Marketing & Public Relations: I recently attended another one of Bill Morrison’s films, The Great Flood, at The Kennedy Center featuring live music performed by Bill Frisell and his quartet. As with Decasia, the score was a collaboration between Morrison and the musicians and it was a wholly engrossing. moving and stimulating experience that the sold-out audience just loved. Having viewed the trailer for Decasia and read more about Morrison’s work which was recently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I anticipate that this event will be one of my Festival highlights. The combination of a poignant visual fantasia with an atmospheric and experimental score performed by the full orchestra is such an exciting prospect. I expect to walk out of the Sottile Theater changed in some way; my mind expanded, my senses stimulated, and on an art-fueled Festival high!

Decasia has gone on to become that rarest of birds, an experimental film with crossover appeal.” – The New York Times

Tickets to Decasia and all other Festival performances are available online at spoletousa.org, over the phone at (843) 579-3100, and in person at the Charleston Visitor Center (375 Meeting Street).


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